Scripture: Luke 6:30b Jesus says, “If anyone takes what belongs to you do not demand it back.”
Observation: The words of Jesus in this chapter are extremely challenging, especially his words above. Let’s remember that Jesus’ audience was primarily Jewish peasants whose land and freedom had been taken by the mighty Romans. What wasn’t taken by the Romans was taken by the Jewish aristocracy which controlled the Temple finances and drained the pockets of the people. These words of Jesus, then, have a bit of a sting when read in the context of first century Palestinian realities. There were Jewish zealots in that day who tried to fight Roman power with power. These rebel Jews tried to take back what Rome and the Jewish elite had taken from them. Jesus says “do not demand it back.”
Application: The American way seems to be “tooth for tooth” or in some cases, “you take my tooth and I will take your teeth.” There are sayings that have been ingrained in me that run counter to Jesus’ command: You got to fight for your rights, claim what is yours, look out for number one. It seems that the American Church, at times, tries to synthesize American values with Jesus’ teaching. However, on many points they are like oil and water; they don’t mix. Sometimes I wonder if my faith is based more on American Churchianity than Biblical Christianity. By the power of God’s Spirit, today I will align with the values of the Christ I claim to follow, the Christ who tells me not to demand back what is mine.
Prayer: Lord, forgive me for following the values of culture and my own sense of what is right instead of aligning my life with the values of a kingdom not of this world. Please give me the wisdom to differentiate the divergence between your way and the way of the world. And give me the courage to swim upstream and obey your counter-cultural values. Amen.